On April 30, the Federal Trade Commission released a staff report on proposed amendments to the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule (MTOR) and called for interested parties to comment on the changes proposed in the report.

MTOR, which was issued in 1975, requires marketers who solicit customers via mail or telephone to have a reasonable basis for expecting that the sellers can ship within the advertised time frame, such as “allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.”  If no time frame is specified, marketers must be able to ship the merchandise within 30 days.  If sellers cannot ship within the promised time, they must obtain the buyer’s consent to delay.  The FTC last sought comments on MTOR in 2007.  Based on those comments, the Commission proposed amendments in 2011 to clarify:

  • That MTOR covers orders placed over the Internet;
  • That sellers may provide refunds and refund notices to buyers by any means at least as fast and reliable as first-class mail;
  • Sellers’ obligations when buyers use payment methods, such as debit or pre-paid gift cards, that are not spelled out in MTOR; and
  • How refunds are made to consumers who pay with third-party credit products, such as Visa or MasterCard cards, and credit products where the seller is the creditor.

The report details these recommendations that the Commission revise MTOR to respond to new methods of accessing the Internet and making payments and refunds.  The FTC will accept comments on the report until July 15, 2013.

Click here to read the FTC’s press release, access a copy of the FTC’s staff report, and learn how to submit comments on the report.